Abhishek Singhvi Addressing Media On Violence in Tuticorin (English)

Dr. Abhishek Singhvi said we want to address a most unfortunate but deadly cocktail of central government complicity of police brutality, of State government apathy and of corporate ruthlessness for a terrible cocktail which has made Tuticorin smelter a man-made disaster, a blot on India’s face and it is the polluted mind-set of the Government – both Central and State – which has led to killings of innocent people on such a large scale. I would like to ask some 10-11 questions direct precise questions from the Hon’ble Prime Minister, from the Government of India, from the State Government.

(1)  Why is our oratorical eloquent and treat a moment Prime Minister yet silent, still silent on this terrible disaster? Not a word – we all want to know and to use the word of those who tried to use the words nationalism on their sleeves, the nation wants to know.

(2)  Right in the middle of foreign tour, the Prime Minister has plenty of time to throw challenges and to throw counter-challenges. But Yes, the fitness challenges has priority enough in his mind to respond but un fortunately Hon’ble Prime Minister, Government of India ruling Party President you are all running on a treadmill but not getting anywhere. You may be all fit for cameras or fit for ‘Jumlas’ but are you fit for governance, the answer is clearly No. Because both the Government and governance has retired hurt. It is a strange Prime Minister who on one hand maintains silence from fuel challenge to Tuticorin challenge to women security challenge but throws a very proud counter-challenge of a fitness challenge. This is deplorable and this reflects the true mindset of this Government.

(3)  It is very important. In the UPA year 2013, we made a very significant change of rule that industries could bypass public consultations only if the industrial parks they were to being built inside had an environmental clearance. That was the amendment from the pre-existing law which the UPA made in 2013. If the industrial park had not been assessed for environmental safety and under the 2006 regulations, then the industries coming up inside it would necessarily have to consult the people.

This was reversed by the NDA Government in 2014 December. The reversal meant that if a plant is located in an industrial zone, it requires no environmental clearance merely by the fact that it is located in an industrial zone – whether that zone has an environmental clearance or not, does not matter. This was a significant change, why was it significant – because it required clearance then the clearance has to be preceded by public consultation. Why are public consultations important – public consultations do not make veto, do not mean a right to obstruct or refuse but if you are mandatorily required to have public consultation, then the Central Government and the State Governments cannot give you the permissions unless they meet the specific points raised in the public consultations but the entire requirement of public consultation is done away with it in December 2014 by the NDA Government. Once you require no Environmental Clearance, you require no public consultations merely because you say that this smelter is located in industrial zone.

You have seen what has happened? You have seen a comments that video, the firing. Simple question – not a suspension, only transfers? Suspensions are done far less; suspensions as you know in law do not even require a Show Cause. Suspensions are done pending enquiry. Nine people have lost their lives, plant is running without permission or doing activity without permission, there is central and state Governments issue and not single person is suspended.

(4)  You have appointed a judicial retired Judge enquiry but that has no time limit. Is your intent to ensure that it goes into the oblivion of public memory – no time limit? Of course, we are not at all satisfied with a mere enquiry. That is the different issue but if you have an enquiry, there should be some very strict narrow and short time limit. Of course, I do not make any directive for any person, but in a lighter vein, I had told you earlier, it has been defined as a group of unfit appointed by the unwilling, to do the unnecessary. I hope this enquiry does not become as yet one of another one of its kind.

(5)  Has anybody found out, checked up, fixed accountability on which officers was responsible to readily picked this project in Tamil Nadu when a few months before it shifted to Tamil Nadu, it was rejected and evicted from Maharashtra. The same project, the same central project – It started in Maharashtra and the Government ordered to be wound up when the same public protest happened within a few months and the same project was shifted to Tamil Nadu where it was welcome with open arms at least now ex-post facto somebody should fix accountability.

(6)   There was a condition imposed. That if you have in Tamil Nadu, even if you have in a industrial zone, it has to be not less than 25 Kms. away in the gulf of Mannar in which there are 21 islands, it must clear those islands by 25 Kms. It is now established by several reports including foreign report that 5 or 6 of those islands are well within 25 Kms. – not beyond. No enquiry on to fixing of responsibility.

(7)  Will the Hon’ble Chief Minister, who has lots of some time to confer with or seek advice from the PM and vice-a- versa, explain why he has not visited the site up to today.  Indeed parts of the comments on government machinery suggest that the firing was inevitable but there is no visit.

(8)  Will the Hon’ble Prime Minister tell the Nation that apart from giving so much of advice to the ruler of Tamil Nadu, apart from allowing coordinated disruption of Parliament from Tamil Nadu legislatures when it suits this Government? Does the Prime Minister that the CM of Tamil Nadu is ‘Fit’ – I emphasize the word ‘Fit’ to be dismissed? This is another kind of filing challenge which we throw for the Prime Minister. Is he of the view that the CM of Tamil Nadu is fit to be dismissed? Remember, the CM of Tamil Nadu is also the Home Minister of the State.

(9)  Has responsibility been fixed as to who gave this order and who controlled this file. There is a protocol for the things. There is scope for these things. There is SOP Standard Operating Procedure and if you are first four – because this is not a terrorist area, this is not a J&K attack, a SOP requires that first of all you don’t use gun at all,  you use to, and you are to start with something like pellets or something like rubber and then you have to do other things. This is a last resort. Who ordered this under whose supervision, whose authority, when or with or in what manner and you have seen in video. There are recorded views, at least one has to die. At least ultimately ten died or 11 died.

(10)   This is 100 day old protest – 3/1-2 months – and many days ago, this is very interesting – it was announced that on 22nd of May, this protest will take place. So this was no surprise element. The Police, the law and order agencies, the administration were all informed. It was going on for 100 days already and this was announced as a major protest day on 22nd of May. Then, even after that you have to resort to such brutality. Ultimately, all the people of India want answers, if you can’t answer my 11 questions, at least answer some of them. If you can’t answer some of them, at least answer them fractionally but I am convinced that this ‘Jumla Sarkar’ can only answer and coin and quote ‘Jumlas’. They can’t deal with cold hard facts. They can’t answer which demand cold hard objective facts. The Tamil Nadu Sarkar has forfeited the political, moral and ethical right to rule. The least it should do is to apologize unqualifiedly to the people of this country, of their State so also the Central Government because this is clear and massive complicity. Instead of ensuring a life with dignity, they have ensured no life at all.

To another question, Dr. Singhvi said, that I have asked one level above question. Before I asked that question, in the interest of natural justice, we are asking one more question from the Prime Minister and that is – Hon’ble Prime Minister what is your opinion, do you think that Tamil Nadu Government is ‘Fit’ to be dismissed. We will wait for one or two days and then tell you about the second question.

 On the question that based on natural justice on EVM and come to ballot paper, Dr. Singhvi said these are all specific complaints about the specific areas. We have made this complaint in the past also. Our point is two-fold – one we are not making a blanket complaint against very EVM everywhere in the country. This is a common misconception which the BJP promotes. Secondly, we are saying that it is enough to skew the result of election by a few strategic distortions of strategically placed marked machines. Few is enough. Thirdly, and this is the important Parmeshwar has been making – in view of the recurring complaint of this nature whether  in Gujarat or in Karnataka or earlier in UP, we are now of the view without suggesting that there is a blanket problem with all EVMs. It may be better to have paper ballots. That is all we are saying.

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